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Updated: January 7, 2014 18:57 IST

A rewarding switch

RASHMIKA MAJUMDAR
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Hot wheels: Neera likes the flexibility of being her own boss. Photo: Hari Adivarekar
The Hindu
Hot wheels: Neera likes the flexibility of being her own boss. Photo: Hari Adivarekar

“Here I am, this is me. There’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be”

Neera Katwal personal fitness trainer, long-distance runner and single parent to her dog Pookie and cat Tequila has the energy and spirit of a stallion. One can see her up as early as four in the morning training and on alternate days, helping busy Bangaloreans stay fit at home. She also conducts strength training exercises which help condition her running group.

Neera had an MSc in Psychology and had a well-paying job at a leading consultancy firm in Mumbai after completing her PhD in Organisational Psychology and Human Resource Management.

But what made this lady quit a well-paying job as a human resource manager and embrace the outdoors? Neera says it all started when she was pursuing her PhD at IIT Madras. “I needed time to figure out what I really wanted to do in life so I took up a PhD to buy me some time. My days on campus gave me freedom and time to explore things and activities that I loved. Apart from working on my thesis, I took up many extra-curricular activities and made full use of the sports facilities in the college campus. I jogged, played badminton, swam, danced, was into rock climbing and earned a black belt in Karate.”

“When I started working as an HR manager, all the mad rush, the deadlines, the stress and pressure was draining me out. I felt restricted and I had no time or energy for sports after work. That is when I felt this profession is not meant for me. I needed to get out.”

She quit her job, moved to Bangalore where the lovely weather and her friends were welcoming. “I started training and acquired skills to become a fitness professional. I enrolled myself in the Reebok fitness training course for aerobics and body conditioning. I also trained as a yoga instructor, zumba fitness guide and added many other skills through various workshops. For nearly a year till I received my certification, I took up research projects at IISc Bangalore as a consultant that kept me afloat.”

And there was no looking back. As a personal fitness instructor, Neera has built a strong client base to give time to herself and her passion for running. She feels the switch has been rewarding, “There is money, I am my own boss and I have the independence to shift my fitness classes when I want to run races in other cities so there’s flexibility too!”

Neera’s passion for staying fit doesn’t stop at this. She believes in constant improvement and looks forward to adding more skills to her kitty by training in Cross-fit, Acro Yoga, DisQ, Injury management and Rehabilitation, with the aim of catering to her runner clients as well. “I make sure what I train is scientifically implemented and customised to my client’s requirements thus preventing injuries and maximizing results for them. The fitness industry is growing and everyday something new is added. One needs to keep moving with the tide. I want to take up the triathlon.”

As a serious runner she has a disciplined lifestyle of eating right, waking up early, being consistent in training, staying fit, all this sets a good example to her clients and they feel inspired to follow suit. “I do like to eat good food once in a while. I just train harder the next day,” Neera says with a wink.

And when Neera isn’t running, it’s either gardening, books, films, music or pets. “I never fret that I am not married in fact I enjoy the freedom. I have a fairly large circle of friends, from runners, cyclists, fitness and yoga trainers, life is a constant cycle of work-rest-running-racing-friends for me, sans the stress,” she smiles.

This column features those who choose to veer off the beaten track.

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